“You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?’ ”
— Casey Stengel, 1962.
Pity the poor Mets fan: We’ve had some great moments over the years, but Casey’s plea never seems to leave us.
Wednesday’s game would have embarrassed a Little Leaguer: Asdrubal Cabrera’s first-inning double was erased, and Jay Bruce called out without swinging the bat, because Cabrera and Wilmer Flores had batted in the wrong order. The Mets lost a key scoring opportunity, wasted a fine outing by Zack Wheeler, and ended up losing a 1-run game in extra innings, all because nobody could read a lineup card.
Finding creative ways to crush our souls is nothing new for the Amazin’s. It starts with false hope: a new manager, a stable of healthy arms, a roaring 12-2 start. Hope is the worst. You thought you learned your lesson last year, but nothing sucks you back in like hope. Two weeks ago, I was counting down the magic number to a playoff spot. Now, they’re in fourth place and barely clinging to .500.
The first season I can really remember following the Mets was 1977, when they traded “The Franchise,” Tom Seaver, after Daily News columnist Dick Young goaded Seaver into demanding a trade. That kicked off seven years in the wilderness.
But at least those teams were just bad; later generations of Mets fans have been baptized with agonizing September and October collapses (1987-88, 2006-08), disastrous and anti-social big-money free-agent signings, generations of injuries to stellar pitching prospects (from the mid-1990s “Generation K” to the current rotation), mid-career departures and flameouts by the franchise’s best talents.